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Ex-Ireland international Nora Stapleton appointed to lead new Women in Sport policy

She will leave her current position as the IRFU women’s and girls rugby development manager.

New Sport Ireland appointee, Nora Stapleton.
New Sport Ireland appointee, Nora Stapleton.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

NORA STAPLETON HAS been appointed as Sport Ireland’s new Women in Sport Lead to help “develop and promote” women and girls’ involvement in sport.

The former Ireland rugby international, currently the IRFU women’s and girls rugby development manager, will leave her role with Irish rugby’s governing body to assume the role in the next two weeks.

“While sorry to be leaving Irish Rugby after six years and the many great people I’ve had the privilege of working with and for, I’m excited by the new opportunity and challenges that lie ahead,” Stapleton said of her appointment.

I look forward to working with Sport Ireland, the National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships to continue to build on the significant work that has already been undertaken in this area within the sport sector to date, recognising the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of women through their involvement in sport.”

Nora Stapleton gives a speech before presenting the trophy Nora Stapleton gives a speech to teams taking part in the Give It A Try campaign. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The former Ireland out-half has been the driving force behind the IRFU’s ’Give It A Try’ campaign, which saw more than 1,000 young girls taking part in last summer’s eight-week programme.

The initiative, aimed at girls aged 10-14, was followed on from of 2017′s “pilot project”, where 13 teams were part of the campaign.

The following year, 38 clubs around the country and 1050 girls participated. Around 60% of those who took part this summer hadn’t been members of a rugby club before.

Speaking to The42 last August, Stapleton commented: “For some of the clubs who were doing this for the first time, they’ve often been shocked at the ability of the girls, how they’re able to adapt and get stuck in.

“With some of the tries they’ve scored or their evasion skills, it’s really nice to see how excited the coaches on the sideline are getting. We’ve heard them saying, ‘God, I didn’t know girls of this age could do that.’

That’s what it’s all about and there’s so much talent out there. 10 to 14 is the age where lots of girls stop playing sport, so if we can keep them active through rugby, that’s a huge achievement.”

Chairperson of the Women in Sport Steering Committee and former Ireland rugby team-mate, Lynne Cantwell, said: “The rationale behind the recently published Sport Ireland Policy on Women in Sport is to provide a blueprint for the organisation’s future work in the area of women in sport.

I welcome Nora and wish her the best in her new role and look forward to the implementation process of this ambitious policy.”

The new policy will be implemented through four key target areas: coaching and officiating, active participation, leadership and governance, and visibility.

The policy aims to achieve equal participation between males and females in sport — rewarding sporting bodies who implement greater gender diversity from the top — and is boosted by increased funding of €2m.

Sport Ireland Women in Sport Steering Committee

  • Lynne Cantwell, Chair – Sport Ireland Board
  • Joanne Cantwell – Broadcaster, RTÉ Sport
  • Mary Dorgan – Sport Ireland Board
  • Jenny Egan – International Athlete, Canoeing
  • John Fulham – President, Paralympics Ireland
  • Frances Kavanagh – Former Director of Sport, Special Olympics Ireland
  • Sarah Keane – Chief Executive, Swim Ireland/President, Olympic Federation of Ireland
  • Mary O’Connor – Chief Executive, Federation of Irish Sport
  • Kelli O’Keeffe – Managing Director, Teneo
  • John Sweeney – Coordinator, Clare Sports Partnership

The Sport Ireland Women in Sport policy can be downloaded here.

With additional reporting from Ryan Bailey.

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